Tony Hertz has a long history with black-andwhite imaging, beginning as a child with a box camera. “I grew up with LIFE, National Geographic and books of photographs,” he remembers. He took his first photo class at San Bernardino Valley College in 1971 and knew he was hooked. He became the instructor’s assistant, had access to the photo lab on campus “and just really shot a lot.”
Later, Hertz went to work in the circulation department at the San Bernardino Sun, where he admired the work of the newspaper’s photojournalists. Seeking funds to continue his education, he was awarded a grant to attend California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. He majored in journalism with a concentration in photojournalism, and served as photo editor of the school newspaper, The Mustang Daily. “I gained skills in editing images and communicating with editors and photographers on story ideas,” he says. The Daily was named the best college daily newspaper in the state by the California Intercollegiate Press Association during his tenure as photo editor. Hertz was honored with the “Photojournalist of the Year” award by the Cal Poly journalism department in 1977.
After graduation, he became a full-time staff photographer at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “I shot news stories and sports, and was really happy,” he recalls. During his 10 years there, he won top awards from the National Press Photographer’s Association, the California Press Photographer’s Association and the Associated Press News Executives Council for California and Nevada. Hertz photographed presidents, the queen of England, Pope Paul VI, celebrities, musicians and sports figures, as well as major news and community events.
However, the day came when he decided to move on. “I left the Tribune in 1988 to pursue new challenges and become an independent photographer.” Hertz kept in touch with people he met while working for the newspaper, and built relationships with many major newspapers and magazines. He’s been honored by the Sony World Photography Awards, International Photography Awards, PX3 (France), Camera USA and the Black and White Spider Awards, among others. His images have appeared in publications such as Outdoor Photographer, Silvershotz and Black and White. His work has also been published in TIME, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic WORLD, Sunset and Christian Science Monitor.
“I have corporate, industrial and agricultural clients, including Chevron USA, Dupont, BASF, The Gas Company, Clark Construction and the Edison Company,” Hertz says. He markets his agricultural, industrial and lifestyle stock images through Design Pics and Alamy, and sells images from his own extensive photo library directly to clients. The Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, California represents his fine art images.
Black-and-white has long been his preferred way of portraying the world. Hertz comments, “Years ago, I just started looking at things in black-and-white, which made it easier for me to home in on form and composition. That’s the big difference between black-and-white and color. Color is just more information.” He stresses the importance of getting detail in the shadows of a blackand- white image. “The old masters concentrated on that. It’s very important for a photo to have luminance in the details and tonal range throughout.” He points out that color images of flowers and other scenes in nature are very commonplace, but there are also lot of great nature images in black-and-white. “The photographer concentrates more on form and texture, which gives a picture a simplified look,” he notes.
He enjoys capturing landscape and nature subjects in his black-and-white fine art photography, and counts Imogen Cunningham, Minor White and Edward Weston as strong influences. “I also admire Wynn Bullock,” he says. “He’s not someone who comes to mind when you think of black-and-white photography, but he thought outside the box and was very innovative.” Hertz looks up to Ansel Adams as well. “I love the quality of his photos and all the detail he captured.” He views black-and-white imagery as more interpretive and believable, and says that it helps him make order out of chaos in nature. “I try to create an energetic harmony,” he states.